Zhug

I love spicy sauces. I mean seriously spicy. The West Indian spice sauces are quite the best. I spoon hot sauces on everything. As Indians, we are known for making everything spicy and full of strong flavors that really don’t allow the natural, delicate flavors to come through.

In southern India, our food is not spicy at all. Andhra Pradesh has extremely spicy food, but not so in Tamil Nadu. We eat a lot of rice and it’s accompaniments like rasam or sambhar, but all that is very mildly flavored, usually with a tempering of mustard seeds and cumin.

I’m wandering off. The reason I started this is to say that Indian food is misconceived to be always spicy. It’s really not. But I am always in search of a great hot sauce. So when I saw the recipe for a Yemenite hot sauce, Zhug, I simply had to try it. Now I keep a jar of Zhug in the refrigerator and spoon it on everything. Seriously everything.

Green Zhug

  • 1/4 tsp coriander seeds
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4-6 green chillies, roughly chopped
  • 1-2 tsp salt
  • 2 cups cilantro leaves and fine stems
  • 1/2 cup good quality olive oil

Using a mortar and pestle, grind the coriander seeds and cumin seeds to a fine powder. Add the green chillies, garlic and salt and grind to a paste.

Add the cilantro, a little bit at a time, and continue pounding and grinding to a rough paste.

Continuing to pound constantly, drizzle in the olive oil to form an emulsion. Season to taste with salt.

Zhug can be stored in an airtight container for several weeks.

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